2008-07-05 / News

Buckeye Lake making progress on water

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE - Construction of Buckeye Lake's public water distribution system probably won't begin until next spring, but things are happening quickly behind the scenes according to Buckeye Lake Director of Development Valerie Hans.

Right now, the village is organizing the project's financing - securing loans and applying for grants - as it prepares to purchase bulk water from Millersport. About 67 percent of Buckeye Lake households are considered to be of "low to moderate income," or LMI, which is helping the village acquire government funding, she said.

Currently, the entire Buckeye Lake public water distribution system is estimated to cost almost exactly $7 million. This includes 12 and 2/3 miles of water lines, a water tower, a booster station, meters, and other equipment. Toward the $7 million total, the village is expecting several forms of loans. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is expected to provide two loans-one for $500,000 and one for $306,000.

Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster said the $500,000 loan is for design and the $306,000 is for construction. "Actually it's for the capacity fee for Millersport, but they call it construction," he said. The EPA will forgive half of each loan assuming construction begins within five years. The EPA is willing to forgive a total of $403,000.

The Ohio Water Development Authority is expected to provide a two percent (or possibly lower), 30-year loan for approximately $5,601,935. The village received approximately $300,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers, which was used mainly to pay off an old OWDA loan for a previous water study.

Additionally, Hans said the village applied for a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG funding. If the village receives this, $500,000 will go toward the distribution system, and $100,000 will be divided between qualified owneroccupied households to help them connect to the water system. Hans expects the CDBG funding, if approved, would lower residents' monthly water bills by approximately $3.

Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program State Field Agent Coordinator John Rauch estimated residents would pay $50 per month for 4,500 gallons of water, however, Hans said she expects monthly bills to be significantly less and most homes won't use 4,500 gallons per month. "We fully expect it to go lower," said Hans. It's almost impossible to predict the monthly bills, she said, until it's known for certain how many residents will opt for public water.

Buckeye Lake will not charge assessments or tap fees for the construction of this project, said Hans. But, it is important to note that a sizable tap fee will eventually be charged to those who wait to connect to the distribution system. The suspended tap fee is a limited time offer-an incentive for as many people to sign on as possible when the distribution system is constructed.

Hans doubted that the pre-assessment would continue to be collected after its five-year term expires. She said collecting a pre-assessment may hinder the village's ability to collect future grants.

"Anything I can do to get my hands on more grants," she'll do, said Hans, adding that she constantly checks online and is working with Rauch to find more grant money. The more that's found, she said, the lower everyone's water bill will be. "We want everyone to be able to use this public water system," said Hans. "We don't want someone not to use the water system because of a cost issue."

She expects to have the PTI, or Permit to Install, "any day now." The PTI outlines design requirements and is proof that the distribution system complies with EPA guidelines. It must be obtained before construction can begin.

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